Because of my passion for history I’m a sucker for old books and some years ago I was delighted to find ‘Highways & Byways in Hampshire’ by D. H. Moutray Read, first published in 1908. My copy, soft brown leather with a gold embossed title, is an updated version published in 1923.
The author goes into detail about places he likes but says, ‘I can but move slowly for this is Kipling’s “amazing England”… but he’s unimpressed by Eastleigh which ‘may be left, for that is simply a collection of remarkably ugly houses that have sprung up round an important railway junction.’
However, Chandler’s Ford does get a nod of approval although he has a different derivation of the name from the more usual suggestion of a family named Chaundler or Chandler. Sadly, he doesn’t include an illustration of the village.
‘The main road does not touch Eastleigh but runs nearly two miles away to the west of the line past Chandler’s Ford or, as it was originally known, Challoner’s Ford, where Dick Cromwell* brought his bride to feast in the orchards on merries, a small edition of the black Kent cherry. Now it is almost an outlying suburb of Southampton, so built over is the little valley with new villas, by pine woods hardly much older, with not half-a-dozen merry trees for the seeking, and fewer of the dark juicy berries, probably, that Dick Cromwell found.
‘Yet to this day, if the Monk’s Brook comes down in a flood, wheeled traffic between Chandler’s Ford and Eastleigh must divert to the main road, for where the byway crosses the stream is only a foot-bridge as of yore.
‘From Chandler’s Ford the highway trends more easterly toward the line of the old Roman road, joining it just north of the long and narrow parish of Otterbourne.’
*Oliver Cromwell’s aunt, Lady Fleming, lived at North Stoneham and the name lives on in the Fleming Arms pub. Richard Cromwell, his younger son, whose father-in-law owned Hursley Park, briefly succeeded his father as Lord Protector of England. When King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 Richard went abroad and only returned in 1680, living until he was eighty-five.
Another book, ‘Small Talk at Wreyland’ is set in Devonshire and includes a story that ought to make us grateful that Chandler’s Ford is well-supplied with up-to-date dental surgeries!
‘On 20th January (1860) I saw a man spitting out blood and asked him the matter, when he said he had had a tooth drawn and the doctor had torn the jaw. I gave him brandy on lint, which soon stopped the flow of blood. The old dentists, or tooth-drawers, used to apply salt and water, which was not bad though a little brandy would have been better. The fact is that their charge was only sixpence so they could not afford the brandy, but these new-fashioned ones charge as much as five shillings.’